Stanford Cropped
A chinese lion statue

I am a PhD candidate in Linguistics at Stanford University. A sociolinguist primarily, I have a strong interest in ethnic and world varieties of English. At Stanford, my current faculty research directors are Rob Podesva, Penny Eckert and Meghan Sumner.

Before coming to Stanford, I received my MA in English Linguistics at North Carolina State University under the primary supervision of Walt Wolfram, as well as Erik Thomas and Robin Dodsworth.

My work focuses on ethnic and regional varieties of English in the United States, including African American English, Chicano English, Japanese American English, and regional California and North Carolina varieties. At Stanford, I'm happy to be a contributing field worker, researcher, and project manager for the Voices of California project, concentrating mainly on sociophonetic variation of several regional California dialects. My work on this project has resulted in several publications with colleagues on vowel variation and sibilant production across the state.

My dissertation -- projected for completion in Spring 2017 -- addresses an important question I've had since becoming a sociolinguist:

What is the relationship between dialect variation and stylistic variation?

Are they one and the same thing? (Hint: I don't think so). Does one originate from another? From a viewpoint of variation as social meaning (i.e., the third-wave variationist framework, cf. Eckert 2005), what is a dialect anyway? How much regularity is there, actually, in the everyday speech of an individual going about the course of her life?

To address these questions, my dissertation takes an in-depth look at the everyday speech of "Pearl," a young female Californian, via 200+ hours of self-recorded speech spanning two weeks of her life, not to mention many more hours of ethnographic observation and interviews. In these data, I look for evidence for uniformity in addition to the variation I'm always attuned to. The sheer quantity of speech data I've gathered allows me to use cluster analysis to illuminate not only Pearl's "baseline" style, but also her excursions from that style. I interpret these distinctive deviations to exemplify her particularly stylized moments of linguistic performance. In identifying the stylized speech vis-a-vis the baseline, and examining each of these styles within the context of Pearl's real-lived experiences, I can further explore the social meanings that these stylized moments are portraying for her. Altogether, this study enables me to challenge basic assumptions surrounding the "vernacular principle" (cf. Labov 1972) and to demonstrate the full range of stylistic variation in the life of an ordinary speaker.

Concentrating primarily in the sociophonetic domain, my dissertation builds upon pilot work that used distribution analysis to similarly identify stylistically-salient vowel tokens out of a larger set of baseline tokens produced by two California female speakers. I wrote this study up in my second qualifying paper and presented it at the 2015 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting. Additional pilot work identified stylistization in the production of statistical outliers in the speech of a prototypical "jock" and a "burnout" from Penny Eckert's famous Belten High ethnography. This study was presented as part of a "Jocks and Burnouts: Revisited" panel at NWAV 42.

In addition to my work at Stanford, I continue to be a contributing researcher for the North Carolina Language and Life Project, where my work includes analysis of morphosyntactic features of African American English from a longitudinal corpus of child language housed at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Using this corpus, Charlie Farrington and I recently presented a paper about an emerging feature--invariant aspectual be like--at the 2015 LSA annual meeting. Our talk was picked up by the Boston Globe in a piece about invariant aspectual be in African American English. My additional work with the NCLLP involves sociophonetic analyses of vowels and consonants in African American and Chicano Englishes.

Outside of English, I enjoy investigating the Lithuanian, Russian, and most recently, Kazakh languages. My first qualifying paper provides a syntactic analysis of movement/splitting phenomena in the Lithuanian noun phrase. In Kazakh, I investigated parallels between noun phrase structure and nominalized embedded clauses.


When I'm not working on linguistic matters, I'm most likely to be found spending time with my family. I have a husband and three amazing boys (aged 9, 7, and 3), who are featured in the various photographs on my website. We love activity, which means bike riding, camping, swimming, ice skating, exploring, and traveling whenever we have the chance.


Thanks a lot for visiting my site, and please don't hesitate to send me an email to discuss my research or linguistics in general.